Kristin is 22 years old. She’s been in a romantic relationship for the past two years and she and her partner are talking seriously about marriage. During our session last week, Kristin said, “My godmother told me that nobody should get married before 30. Do you think I’m old enough to get married?”
When am I old enough to get married? Walk to school alone? Start the business? Join the Navy? Have a child?
There are plenty of 17-year-olds who can be trusted with an infant and 50-year-olds who can’t be trusted with an iPhone. That’s not about age! That’s about something else entirely.
“When am I old enough?” is an easy question to ask because age is easy to measure.
The bad news: age is a poor substitute for readiness, which is what most of us really want to know.
The challenge for Kristin is to ask a different question: “What does it mean to be ready for marriage?”*
Depending on the life circumstance, being “ready” might mean the ability and willingness to change a diaper at 2 am, refuse an invitation for a third beer, program in C++, or describe your feelings without laying blame.
If you’re trying to figure out when you’re old enough to act, perhaps this invitation to look elsewhere is for you:
What does it mean to be ready? How do I determine readiness? Do I want to be ready now?
*The correct answer to Kristin’s new question, of course, depends in large part on what kind of marriage she wants to have.